Washington, D.C. – Today’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives allowing the federal government to provide funds to rebuild houses of worship damaged by Hurricane Sandy (H.R. 592) raises serious concerns about the boundaries between religion and government. Interfaith Alliance president Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a longtime critic of this practice, voiced his concern and asked the Senate to put a stop to this effort.

“Today’s vote in the House of Representatives to allow federal funds to be used to rebuild houses of worship damaged by Hurricane Sandy is a serious setback for religious freedom that ultimately could hurt houses of worship more than it helps them. It is now up to the Senate and President Obama to stand against this ill-advised action.”

“Steering tax dollars to religious institutions in this manner violates the boundaries between religion and government, and opens the door to government intrusion into the affairs of houses of worship. Making an exception in this case, while well-meaning, will only result in damaging a principle that has ensured the ability of diverse faith and belief to flourish in this country for centuries.”

“Furthermore, to imply as this bill now does, that a house of worship ‘provides essential services of a governmental nature,’ does a disservice to religious institutions. There is no doubt in my mind that houses of worship are essential. They are not however ‘of a government nature,’ and to imply otherwise is to challenge the independence and integrity of these institutions. Houses of worship often provide critical services to their communities and, even while sometimes done in partnership with government, this work is rooted in their faith, and in their religious teachings, not in being an extension of government.”

Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.